Automotive Fleet

SEP 2013

Magazine for the car and truck fleet and leasing industry

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MARKET TRENDS BY MIKE ANTICH How Fleet Can Minimize Interdepartmental Friction F leet management, by its very function, should be one of the most important departments in any corporate hierarchy. Fleet managers play a pivotal role that intersects with most major corporate functions, such as HR, sales, procurement, risk management, legal, sustainability, fnance, and administrative services. Consequently, interdepartmental cooperation must be an integral part of feet management. A feet manager must establish a relationship with every department touched by feet to address their needs, keep them informed, and gain buy-in with feet policy. However, not all department managers are team players and many have egos the size of a Class 8 truck. As a result, there are the inevitable interdepartmental conficts, typically driven by the challenge of balancing HR/driver requirements versus fnance/ accounting department requirements that are ofen at odds with one another. Fleet managers must learn to be diplomats, because interdepartmental confict can have a corrosive efect on how departments work with one another. Out of this departmental friction, negative stereotypes develop, as do eforts to downgrade the performance of the other party, and you don't want feet to be the target of those barbs. Fleet managers must learn to develop a more authoritative voice when dealing with other department managers since the wrong decisions will negatively impact feet operations. In years past, feet existed as a realm of its own. Te management of other departments ofen didn't fully understand the nuances of feet management other than the driver received a new vehicle every 36 months. Fleet managers of that era were the "kings" and "queens" of their own realms. However, that reality no longer exists. Tis is a hard transition for many long-time feet managers. Tese feet managers lament they used to be in "control," but they now "share" responsibility, requiring approvals or buy-in from every afected department. As a result, what in the past were straightforward decisions, now require inordinate discussion and no longer gets completed in a timely manner. In addition, many feet managers today can no longer devote the necessary time to be a hands-on feet manager because they have additional management responsibilities, ranging from travel to facilities to safety programs. Tese additional responsibilities ofen do not include additional staf, so these feet managers are stretched thin. As a result, this gives rise to other departments encroaching into areas traditionally the domain of feet. Crosscurrent of Safety and Procurement Te migration by large corporations to strategic sourcing has caused corporate procurement departments to become the engines of change in feet management at many Fortune 500 companies. 16 AUTOMOTIVE FLEET I SEPTEMBER 2013 Te emergence of strategic sourcing in the 1990s altered corporate purchasing and forced changes in feet acquisition and the supplier selection process. Corporate procurement departments are now very infuential in vendor selection, contract negotiations, service level agreements, and ongoing supplier management. Te same is true in the area of risk management. Fleet managers are under pressure to minimize preventable accidents. Ofen the company HR, legal, and risk management departments are driving these pressures. For instance, corporate risk management has become more infuential in the types of vehicles added to feet selectors. Another department with a growing infuence on feet safety is the Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) Department. EHS departments are extending their reach into feet because company drivers are one of the largest sources of workers' compensation claims. Te entire decision-making process in accident preventability management has evolved from being a feet department focus to a function of a corporate committee, comprised of representatives from feet, HR, legal, risk, sales, and operations. Importance of Cultivating Internal Relationships A number of feet managers I know criticize this involvement of "non-feet" managers, rather than seeking ways to partner and gain their support by educating them about feet management. Fleet managers must persuasively articulate their positions and have the courage to stand by their convictions without being abrasive or gaining a reputation of not being a team player. Many feet managers miss golden opportunities to do so. Te next time a major sales meeting occurs fnd a way to attend. Tere is no better way to know a business unit you serve than from the inside. While at the meeting, listen, participate, and ask questions to demonstrate your interest in supporting their business needs. Te bottom line is that you need to get other managers to see what you see, because when the time comes to implement a new process or strategy, you will have already gained the trust of your departmental peers. Continuously developing trust and proving value is necessary to stay abreast of the management turnover in these departments. It is incumbent upon feet managers to learn what is important to other departmental managers and, when appropriate, incorporate that into your decision making when formulating and implementing feet management strategies. In the fnal analysis, feet managers must focus on meeting the needs of their internal customers by establishing a cooperative, working relationship with all corporate functions associated with feet. Let me know what you think. AF mike.antich@bobit.com

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